Members of minority groups in the U.S., particularly African-Americans, have been outraged over the past couple of weeks – if not decades – at the violent incidents between police officers and the black community. A recent NFL quarterback has drawn plenty of student and national sports figure’s attention.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem has been spreading rapidly as of late. UA students have different views on the stance or lack thereof.
“I think people can do what they want and stand up for what they believe,” said senior Madison Mitchell who is dating a marine. “But it is hard to be dating someone who is serving his life to protect our country, then to see people disrespect our country like that. I see both sides for sure.”
There are also students on the UA campus who agree with Kaepernick.
“If people feel the need to not stand for a country that they feel oppresses black people, then that’s fine,” senior X’avier Clayton said.
Junior Ikenna Egbosimba said he stands by Kaepernick because of what he thinks the anthem means.
“I’m with it,” Egbosimba said. “I looked into it and I feel the complete version of the anthem was written out of racist principles and ideas. The general and shorter version of it is good but its implementation in this country is flawed to me.”
Major figures in the sports and political worlds have also made their opinions on Kaepernick’s actions heard.
In July, the WNBA fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Indiana Fever and the team’s players for wearing black shirts in response to two black men who were killed during altercations with police and in remembrance of the police officers who were shot in Dallas.
WNBA officials released a statement that said the league is proud its players are advocating non-violent solutions to the issues going on throughout the country, but they should comply with the league’s uniform guidelines.
A similar instance occurred in the NBA in December 2014 when a group of star players including Derrick Rose, Lebron James wore pre-game warm up shirts that said “I can’t breathe” in remembrance of Eric Garner, a New York City man who died after being choked during an interaction with police. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the media he would also prefer if teams stick to the on-court dress code, but no fines were assessed.
Kaepernick is doing something that is getting everyone’s attention, more so than wearing a black T-shirt. He’s taking a stand against the thing that most Americans hold so dearly. He’s deciding to protest the national anthem.
Kaepernick sat down the first two games of the NFL preseason in August, but wasn’t noticed until the third when a fan caught him on camera sitting on the sideline bench.
"I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick told the media after the team’s practice Aug. 28. “To me, this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."
On Sept. 1, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid was the first to follow Kaepernick’s lead and protest for equality. After a meeting with former NFL long snapper Nate Boyer, who was a green beret in the U.S. military, the quarterback decided to shift from sitting to taking a knee.
Some fans and other sports personalities continued to burn jerseys and backlashed against his demonstration, despite the change in approach.
John Tortorella, Team USA’s hockey coach and Columbus Blue Jackets head coach, said he would not tolerate protests from his team.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the National Anthem, they will sit there for the rest of the game,” Tortorella told ESPN’s Linda Cohn.
"We were talking to (Boyer) about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military,” Kaepernick said. “Not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee.”
Despite the negative reaction, he continued to receive positive feedback from his peers around the league. During one of the final preseason games, Seattle Seahawks safety Jeremy Lane was the first non-teammate to stand by Kaepernick, as he sat for the national anthem.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos knelt for the anthem in the first regular season game Sept. 8.
“I’m not against the military, I’m not against the police, or America. I’m against social injustice,” Marshall said in an Instagram post Thursday.
All the members of the Seahawks’ team locked arms before their first regular season game Sunday in support of Kaepernick. A few players from the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots also conducted demonstrations in support of Kaepernick’s movement before their games.
Others such as Kevin Durant and President Barack Obama have also supported Kaepernick’s actions. On Sept. 10, the president said Kaepernick is “exercising his constitutional right” in order to bring racial injustice to attention.
Before the 49ers’ Monday Night Football game against the Rams on Sept. 12, Kaepernick took a knee once more during the anthem.
The quarterback said he will continue to kneel until the social changes he wants to see in America are made, and he seems prepared to follow through on that promise.